Treating Osteoporosis With Nanobubbles

University of Central Florida researchers now have a technology for treating osteoporosis using nanobubbles to deliver treatment to targeted areas of the patient’s body.

Osteoporosis is a disease marked by an imbalance between ossification –  the body’s ability to form new bone tissue – and resorption – the ability to remove old bone tissue. When the rate of bone resorption becomes higher than bone formation it leads to osteoporosis. Studies performed by the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF) show that one in two women and up to one in four men aged 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Current drug treatments for osteoporosis have been shown to cause side effects such as jaw osteonecrosis (delayed healing of the jawbone) and gastrointestinal problems.

The UCF treatment uses ultrasound-responsive nanobubbles to deliver treatment to targeted areas of a person’s body.

“There are a lot of nanoplatforms out there for osteoporosis treatment,” Mehdi Razavi, an assistant professor in UCF’s College of Medicine and a member of the Biionix Cluster at UCF, said. “But the advantage of ultrasound-responsive nanobubbles is that they require ultrasound for bubble disruption and gene delivery. Ultrasound itself can actually facilitate bone formation.”

Importantly, the new treatment both treats and prevents the effects of osteoporosis.

“It is a dual-acting technology,” said Razavi. “On one side, you are reducing bone resorption, and on the other side, you are increasing bone formation using ultrasound.”

Razavi points out that using nanobubbles has a number of advantages: the delivery system helps to slow the release of the treatment and prolong a gene silencing mechanism’s effectiveness; each nanobubble encapsulates the treatment in a gas core, which aids in imaging and tracking the nanobubbles;unlike microbubbles, nanobubbles have the ability to pass through the cell membrane to deliver therapeutics; and chemo-therapeutic drugs and/or oxygen can be encapsulated into the bubbles and then injected to target tumors.

“We are trying to find approaches that could be globally deployed, are non-invasive, widely available, portable, and inexpensive,” said Razavi.